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December 19, 2014

Fox Trumps Sammon Confession....with The Donald

Is Rupert grooming America’s Berlusconi?

With Fox News giving The Donald his own “news” podium each Monday, we see the faux populist magnate being groomed for leadership by the increasingly powerful, if now-octogenerarian, would-be president-maker, Murdoch.

Fittingly announced on April Fool’s Day, the appointment of Trump as a Monday night “guest” — not contributor, may be just an attempt to stir the pot or to find a right-field alternative to Barack Obama, as early Iowa polls show no Fox favorites — Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich, Santorum — catching fire. Trump’s got the kind of weird larger-than-life, what-the-hell, how-can-he-be-worse appeal of a Berlusconi. With unpredictable political times, it’s not impossible to believe he could be elected in America.

The Fox Trump move plays out on an increasingly polarized media terrain.

Just last week, Fox News’ Bill Sammon, the network’s Washington editor and vice president, admitted he propagandized Obama’s “socialist” beliefs, during the campaign. That left TV’s last honest man, Jon Stewart, to display Fox’s basic, continuing and Orwellian hypocrisy. (What makes Stewart so good: authenticity, passion….and video, which tells the story of hypocrisy more than 10,000 Olbermann rants or an equal number of “public interest” editorials.)

For anyone following Murdoch’s long-standing campaign against the BBC, and its public funding — a campaign now having an effect as Britain suffers through terrible economic times — Fox’s drumbeat of anti-NPR coverage is no surprise. Public radio, and public media, are a counterweight to Fox and Murdoch’s London tabs; Murdoch and Fox News head Roger Ailes, like nothing better than throwing them off balance at every opportunity. It is a smart melding of business opportunity and political belief, backed by the deep pockets of News Corp, a family-run company that happens to be the largest news company — by revenue — in the world.

Given the hyper-sensitivity of the times, NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller’s remarks, of course, were blown out of proportion, and NPR, following CEO Vivian Schiller’s rapid removal, has been in a survival crouch for the last couple of months.  Put the shoe on the other foot, hypothetically. Let’s say the head of Fox’s ad sales — the position equivalent to Ron Schiller — had confided his feelings about godless liberals.  What would the reaction have been and how much would have NPR fanned the flicker of outrage?

For most journalists, it would have been a one-day story, but for propagandists, it’s a talking point without end.

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